It is an accepted principle that services for children should be
tailored to the child’s individual circumstances, while allowing
children with any particular needs the greatest possible
opportunity to participate in mainstream activities such as
education alongside their peers.
Neither needs-led services nor opportunities for integration are as
well developed as they should be. But deliberately to exclude any
particular group of children from either principle flies in the
face of best practice and the values which underpin it.
Nevertheless, the government has now legislated to provide
segregated education for asylum seekers’ children. Some of these
children might benefit from being educated within the accommodation
centres. But this blanket provision means it will be impossible to
assess whether or not that is the case for any individual child,
and to respond accordingly.
School is where children encounter the values of wider society –
the values the home secretary supposedly wants asylum seekers to
absorb. And as children’s services become more co-ordinated, school
will increasingly be a gateway to more specialist services for
those who need them.
This exclusion is a powerful symbol of our desire to shut our doors
to those we have irrationally decided to hate – and of a government
scared to stick to its principles.